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Are there fish foods (rather than adding chelated iron) that can add needed iron?

My houseplant system continues to do very well, but I have noticed the leaves of the ficus look like they may be starting to suffer from an iron deficiency (green veins, yellow leaves - but still growing) There are no pests on the plant, so I'm leaning toward a nutrient problem.  Fish are happy & growing, shrimp seem very content, snails & earthworms seem to be thriving - it's really just the ficus that is showing symptoms.  

I've read about chelated iron supplements, and someone suggested planting rye grass as its roots do something to provide iron...but my little system doesn't have anymore room, LOL.  I was hoping someone might have a suggestion for different types of food I can feed the tank that might help? The tank has goldfish, fancy guppies, dojo loach, red ramshorn, red cherry shrimp and pond snails.  

I should add there is a reading of 0 for nitrate/nitrites, no ammonia and I have a pH that hovers right around 6.9 all the time.  Water temp is a constant 76 F.

Thanks everyone!

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Maxicrop with iron could take care of trace element and iron supplementation without having to buy a separate chelated iron supplement.

Iron is one of those things that if you source water doesn't provide it, most fish food probably won't provide enough.

I've added greensand to my grow beds before as well but I have not yet gotten away from needing to supplement some iron. Our well water has plenty of calcium carbonate but seems to have no iron. We get hard water stains in the house but not rust stains.
Thanks for that, I think I was hoping to be able to do everything by just feeding the fish, LOL, but I guess I an't get away from that.  

I've seen other people mention Maxicrop on here,you haven't had any issues with your fish or crustaceans from using it?  Just want to make sure I'm not going to kill off part or all my critters :-)

TCLynx said:
Maxicrop with iron could take care of trace element and iron supplementation without having to buy a separate chelated iron supplement. Iron is one of those things that if you source water doesn't provide it, most fish food probably won't provide enough.

I've added greensand to my grow beds before as well but I have not yet gotten away from needing to supplement some iron. Our well water has plenty of calcium carbonate but seems to have no iron. We get hard water stains in the house but not rust stains.
Hi Ricky. No, Maxicrop shouldn't harm the critters, but it will darken your water for a few weeks so you won't be able to see them. Before adding in Maxicrop you might also want to consider a longer term solution of just adding more fish to your system. I'm not a big fan of supplementing a fully cycled system unless it is absolutely necessary, like to buffer pH, which you clearly don't need to do. Feels like treating the symptoms rather than the underlying problem to me. Since your nitrates are at zero you may just not have enough fish giving off enough food for your plants, which would show up as the symptoms you are seeing.
Maxicrop has been safe for the fish I have so far used it with. Just don't use much. Your little system a few drops a week might be appropriate if you don't want to deal with dark water or a cap full for the first dose if you don't mind brown water for a while.

I've known people who used seasol (another brand of seaweed extract) heavily for their first year and then found they no longer needed it in later years once the mineralization of the solids in the grow beds really got mature.

One point about aquarium fish foods, many of them are designed to keep the fish happy yet provide the minimum possible amount of nutrients to the water in the aquarium since in a non-aquaponic or planted aquarium, more nutrients means more water changes and more work. So, to get more nutrients from feeding the fish, you might want a fish food that pollutes your water a little more. I don't have much experience with aquarium fish feeds so I'm not sure what varieties I would recommend to get more nutrients to your plants.
Thanks Sylvia - I wasn't sure if I should add more critters or not...but I have noticed my tank handles changes well (adding more fish,stirring up gunk when moving things,addition of plants, excess food) Didn't want tostress the sysytem...but that may be what it needs.  Plus I need to be able to see them so I know what's happening in the tank and I would rather add more of them then a supplement.

I'll try a few more fish and see what happens.

Sylvia Bernstein said:
Hi Ricky. No, Maxicrop shouldn't harm the critters, but it will darken your water for a few weeks so you won't be able to see them. Before adding in Maxicrop you might also want to consider a longer term solution of just adding more fish to your system. I'm not a big fan of supplementing a fully cycled system unless it is absolutely necessary, like to buffer pH, which you clearly don't need to do. Feels like treating the symptoms rather than the underlying problem to me. Since your nitrates are at zero you may just not have enough fish giving off enough food for your plants, which would show up as the symptoms you are seeing.
I think I'm going to try a combo of Sylvia's idea & yours (about the food) to change things.  If I don't have to add supplements,great...I'm going to pick up a few more fish and look at some different foods while I'm at the store to see what I can come up with.

TCLynx said:
Maxicrop has been safe for the fish I have so far used it with. Just don't use much. Your little system a few drops a week might be appropriate if you don't want to deal with dark water or a cap full for the first dose if you don't mind brown water for a while. I've known people who used seasol (another brand of seaweed extract) heavily for their first year and then found they no longer needed it in later years once the mineralization of the solids in the grow beds really got mature.

One point about aquarium fish foods, many of them are designed to keep the fish happy yet provide the minimum possible amount of nutrients to the water in the aquarium since in a non-aquaponic or planted aquarium, more nutrients means more water changes and more work. So, to get more nutrients from feeding the fish, you might want a fish food that pollutes your water a little more. I don't have much experience with aquarium fish feeds so I'm not sure what varieties I would recommend to get more nutrients to your plants.
if you find any aquarium feeds that seem to supply the needed things better, please share as I know others are interested in this.
absolutely! Looked around today and didn't se a major difference in feeds.  Most,as you said, are meant to be cleaner.  Though I did see some with a "ferrous" something in the ingredients.  I have to look that up, but it sounds like iron to me - and what you put in is what you get out.  Though I don't know if it's in a useale form for plants.

TCLynx said:
if you find any aquarium feeds that seem to supply the needed things better, please share as I know others are interested in this.
So, I've added 2 female fancy guppies, 2 cory catfish, and a gold clam for good measure :) Hopefully the clam survives, if not, he'll just be foder for the snails, fish & plants, LOL. Anyhow - been thinking about what you said (sylvia) about more fish for more nutrients. My tank is just over 2 months old, and I've read more mature tanks are heavier on nutrients - is that due to the mineralization of solid waste in the gravel bed?

I have (obviously) solid waste in both the filters I've designed, the pre filter on the pump (which the snails & shrimp feed on), and also in the gravel. I'm assuming as time goes on the already accumulated solids I mentioned will be broken down by bacteria and released as further nitrates and micronutrients for the plants. My question is how long does "mature" really mean? Or, rather, how long for the mineralization to take place (it seems to be inferred that it takes longer than just cycling a tank to create a bacterial colony)? The solids in the main filter I can see (its a glass vase) and they have definitely changed from just fish poo/food/dead plant to a slimy, waving mass which I just assumed was "bioslime" that was undergoing mineralization and was helping to keep the water clear/feed the plants.
Hi Ricky. Just to be sure we are on the same page, when you say " more mature tanks are heavier on nutrients", I would say it as "more mature systems can handle more waste, and thus create more nutrient". What I mean by this is the bio-filter created by the bacteria colonies becomes more and more established and efficient over time.

Just like with anything (speaking as a mother of teenagers) "mature" is a relative term. Once your system is cycled (i.e. you have nitrates, and your ammonia and nitrite levels have dropped below 1 ppm) you have a bio-filter, but that filter will be better in 2 months, and 6 months and a year.

You are doing this the right way by adding more fish gradually over time as your system can handle it. And, yes, I bet you are right about that "bioslime"...especially now that it is waving at you :D
Sylvia, you are always so polite and informational with your answers - as someone who knows/read about a lot of the facts, but still has to put them together to make sense, I applaud you :) It helps me a great deal when I can't quite find what I need by researching, it's great to be able to ask a question directly, google is great, but not for super specific questions.

I'm glad I'm going in the right direction, and that all the advice so far has led me to a quality tank. I'm anxious to get the 55 gallon cycling, because I would like that one to be a little more "mature" before adding crops this spring.

I'm also glad you don't think I'm too silly a noob for my devious goldfish and waving slime stories :)
Ha! Are you kidding? I love your goldfish and slime stories! And I hope to see them both someday when I next visit my daughter at UDub. Do you have a restaurant in Seattle?

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